Arsene Wenger has denied Arsenal are on the verge of signing Porto's Juan Quintero, and the Gunners would be wise not to proceed with a move for the Colombian sensation.
Reports in Portugal claimed Quintero would be flying to London to complete a transfer on Monday, per Metro, before the player's agent told Mais Futebol (h/t to Metro's Jamie Sanderson) he hadn't heard from Porto regarding a potential transfer.
And now it looks like several publications drastically jumped the gun, as Wenger flat-out denied making a move for Quintero, via Arsenal's official Twitter account:
Quintero's agent, Ricardo Calleri, claims there is a lot of interest in his client, but he reminded everyone there is a £31.7 million release clause to take into account, per Sanderson:
"There are clubs interested – there is much interest in the player. The clubs interested are in Spain and in England. But to leave one would have to pay the release clause."
Porto are known to be shrewd negotiators in the transfer market, so any interested club would likely be forced to pay the entire release clause, or a sum close to it, in order to obtain the 21-year-old.
As talented and young as he may be, that is a lot of money for a player who is yet to show he's worthy of all the hype. Quintero's career hasn't taken off the way some expected it would since he moved to Europe, and while the potential is clearly there, people looking for the next James Rodriguez need to calm down a bit.
Quintero moved to Pescara in the summer of 2012 and impressed for the newly-promoted Serie A squad that had been gutted on the transfer market during the summer window. Running proceedings in the centre of the pitch, it quickly became evident the Colombia international was just too good for such a small team.
FC Porto came calling one year later, where he was given only four starts all season, per WhoScored.com. Now, there's nothing wrong with easing a youngster into the squad—Benfica did the same thing with Lazar Markovic.
His first season at Porto shouldn't take anything away from the youngster, and neither should his showing at the 2014 World Cup, which had its ups and downs. Quintero's potential is still intact, with most of the hype coming from his performance at the 2013 U-20 World Cup.
He dominated that competition with a sensational blend of pace, technique and scoring ability, leading to comparisons with Lionel Messi.
Quintero's physical tools are obvious, but he's still incredibly raw when it comes to the mental aspect of the game. He has solid vision and a good football IQ, but for a playmaker, that's not enough. Simply put, the youngster still has a lot of developing to do.
North of £30 million is a steep price for a youngster whose main calling card is "potential" but who is yet to prove his worth against class opposition. Porto struggled mightily as a team in 2013-14, yet the much-touted Quintero couldn't break into the starting XI.
According to Rafael Hernandez, that won't affect the club's valuation of him:
I don't know if Quintero's off to Arsenal or not, what I'm sure is that Porto won't let him leave for less than his €40m clause.— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) July 31, 2014
It would be a steep price for anyone, but particularly for a player who doesn't fill a need for the club. The Gunners have plenty of capable playmakers—they need to invest in players who can help the midfield defensively, like Sporting Lisbon's William Carvalho.
Should Arsenal move for Quintero?
Quintero is in a perfect situation in Portugal: The team needs to rebuild following a subpar 2013-14 campaign, he'll have every chance of playing big minutes in the coming season and Porto have built quite the reputation for cultivating talent.
Arsenal couldn't offer Quintero much playing time, unless he would find a way to outplay the Gunners' platoon of talented playmakers (which is doubtful).
That would likely lead to the player spending the next season out on loan, and throwing £30 million at a player who can't help you win matches while the club still needs to find a holding midfielder simply isn't how Arsenal do business.
Quintero might one day end up in north London, but, given his need for further development and steep asking price, the Gunners are doing the smart thing by not pursuing the midfielder during the summer of 2014.